When in Doubt, Prefer the Other Person

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” [Romans 12:10 KJV]

When in Doubt, Prefer the Other Person

A few days ago there was a bit of an argument in the comments about how much control a wife should have over what her husband watches. Words like “freedom”, “sin”, “rights”, “lust”, and “preferences” were thrown around.

My answer to this is one word: prefer.

I suppose it might look more like avoiding the issue than dealing with it. In a way, I guess it is that, but I see it as a higher principle making the whole issue irrelevant. 

Preferring is an interesting concept. Dictionary.com defines the word this way “to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than”. We usually think of this in terms of preferring one of a number of similar things. I prefer this colour, or that type of food, or some genre of movies. I’m expanding that to preferring a person, my wife, over activities or time use. In part, this means not doing things that make her uncomfortable. In part, it means not doing things that take too much of my limited time so I have plenty of time to spend with her.

Yes, this gives my wife a lot of power over me. But I’m the one giving her that power because I love her; because I want to value and honour her; because I choose to prefer her. Of course, I think we are called to do this, with others in general and our spouse in particular, but for me with my wife this is an easy thing.

I realise having a reasonable wife makes this less painful and difficult. I am aware there are those who would take advantage of this. However, that doesn’t make it wrong to prefer such a person. It probably requires more thinking and some good boundaries, but I think it’s still wise, loving, and what God calls us to do.

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16 Comments on “When in Doubt, Prefer the Other Person

  1. This really does seem to rub husbands the wrong way.

    I am trying to think of it in my case, which would be to prefer my husband over being hurt over his movie choices. Well, I have stopped nagging him, but I can’t just stop the hurt. I occupy myself, otherwise, and will later ask my husband what he thought of the movie.

    But, as I thought on this I realized just how many of his preferences take precedence over mine. Even how we dress the bed is his choice, not mine. Even my pajamas and bathrobes are what he likes, not what I necessarily like. Even sex is how he wants it, not how I would love to have it. I can’t experiment with my hair as much as I’d like to, because he prefers it a certain way. I would likely dress differently if we weren’t married. He is particular about how I dress. I don’t even own sweats. He has preferences about how the house is decorated that I utilize rather than decorating it to my preference. Meals are mostly rotations of his preferred menu. Even what gifts he buys me or the rare dates we go on have to be his preference. He wants to take me to see a movie on my birthday as a birthday present. I really don’t want to go, but he is so excited and insistent. He took me to a hotel once. He told me what to watch on TV, I wanted a nice restaurant, he wanted take away. We got take away. He took me shopping and kept pointing out clothes he liked for me.

    It sounds controlling, but I think it is more just his strong personality and his thinking he is loving on me by doing that. So, I bristle at the idea that just because I feel strongly and differently about sex and nudity in movies, I am being an arrogant eve trying to control her husband. I even had to downsize my wardrobe and move out of our closet to make room for his stuff! He has the walk in closet stuffed. I have a 2 foot wide closet in my kids’ room. I do it because I prefer him over myself, and partly because I grew up learning that husband has final say and authority.

    • WOW, sounds like a one way street. Have you told him what types of clothes you like, what type of movies you like, and when it come to sex have you explained what you enjoy? Is there a big difference in the choices you like compared to your husband? Maybe suggest change is good. Specially when it come to sex and the above. Surprise him with something different. It might work. Hope to hear back.
      Be well.

      • If only it were that easy, Rob. I am working on just accepting it and living my best within it because ultimately, the signs were there, and in my young naivety and stubborn desire to be married and cared for and out from under the thumb of my parents, I chose this life, anyway.

        Something Mykids said in another thread actually gave me a snap to attention. Should work it out before marriage. In my case, yes.

        We don’t always get the life we dreamed of for many different reasons and circumstances. I made my bed, now I have to lay on it and it is up to me whether I toss and turn all night or get the best sleep that I can under the circumstances.

        It isn’t horrible. Not even bad, really, but kind of shocking, because I didn’t know any better when I first married and now, after books, blogs, preaching, and counsel/mentoring, I realised just how messed up I am, it is, he is. Probably me moreso. I’m still recovering from the shock.

        • You have to some life for your self. You have needs for your self. Specially when it comes to pleasure for your self. Doesn’t your husband understand that. You need to be made love to and be respected. You should also get what you want at time’s.
          Take things slow and make some decisions one step at a time. Maybe be a little firm with your husband. Maybe it’s a start.
          Your thoughts.

        • Speaking up, complaining…doesn’t always work. He thinks he is the one who gives up his preferences, or he thinks I am being unappreciative of all the things he does for me or for us.

          Things have gotten better in the last couple of years, and better since I started working again.

  2. Great post, Paul.

    Some things are non-negotiable, though. My wife would prefer a different person in terms of attitude and outlook; it really frosts her that I’m too sick to walk a straight line, but still insist I’m good to go. She calls me the Energizer Bunny From Hell, and means every word.

    And the jokes; referring to my body as the functional equivalent to a junker truck in a redneck’s yard, where you can take bets on which part’s going to fall off next…well, I thought it was funny, you’ve got to laugh at something, right?

    But she didn’t agree. Vehemently.

    It’s not negotiable, though, because keeping morale up under these circumstances is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Sure, there are times I want to curl up on the sofa and ‘be held’, and that is the paradigm my wife knows from experience with the dying.

    But the risk is too great; if I gave in to that preference I would soon become something less than I have to be to make the strength that I still have count.

  3. In concept I kind of agree with you, I would phrase it with be judicious about what you choose to draw lines in the sand over. This kinda comes across as “do what she wants” which probably isn’t your intent and I would not agree with. Some things are absolutely worth standing your ground on, and they can be different for different people.

  4. Interesting read. Both of us grew up in homes where “I love you” was a goodnight wish and hugs were not awarded for booboos. We tell each other “I love you” frequently, daily. Sometimes I add “I don’t know what that means, but I know what love is!” Many years ago (we’ve been together 30 years!) I looked up love in 1 Corinthians 13. It changed my way of thinking. I dare all of you to read that chapter in terms of loving your spouse. It’s a tough standard to meet, but it feels good to try. And I promise you will find preferring one another there too.
    Thanks, Paul, for sharing your insightful thoughts with us. My husband and I are encouraged many times by your musings.

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